WebOS on TVs
LG had a very large area of their booth dedicated to their latest venture in smart TVs: WebOS. For those who don’t remember (or in many cases, never knew), WebOs was a phone operating system created by Palm. After a much-hyped debut in summer of 2009, WebOS faltered due to lack of sales of Palm smartphones. Palm itself was sold to Hewlett-Packard (HP) in April of 2010, and WebOS came with it. HP brought several devices to market running WebOS, including a phone and tablet. Again, these devices failed to reach their sales goals, and the WebOS operating system was licensed to LG in February of 2013 for use in TVs. Here at CES, LG is showing the results of that license, and it’s surprisingly good.
Using a remote that looks like a Wii-mote, a user can scroll through cards (LG is calling them “apps” at this time) at the bottom of the screen and click to instantly send that app into the main view. The main cards are called “favorites”, and can be customized to the users liking by dragging new apps to the main bar; this is similar to how smart phone and tablets apps are moved around a screen. The WebOS interface also has a “past” feature, which is basically an elegant app-switcher; it brings up your most recently used apps for quick access.
The entire interface is elegant and minimalistic, using sharp edges on the card apps and muted colors though out. Although I did not get a chance to demo the TV myself, using WebOS seemed like a joy, as the representative effortlessly flicked new apps into the main view. Even card apps such as a Blu-Ray player input, live TV tuner and internet browser sprung to life with little or no lag whatsoever, making the entire experience streamlined. There is also a voice command feature, but we were not given a demo of that.
WebOS will be on 70 percent of LG’s upcoming 2014 smart TV models, with the first models rolling out in the second quarter of 2014 starting at $8,999 for a 55-inch flat OLED model. If you would rather hold on to your remaining college tuition fund, LG is planning to release more reasonable models at a later date.